It is only through questioning our assumptions that we grow and improve.
We should ask questions for our own personal development and we should question traditional assumptions on projects and tasks to lead to out-of-the-box thinking, engaging discussions and overall better decisions. An effective question to ask yourself and/or the team; “is there anything we should be thinking about that we’re not?”
The leadership pattern that is the best at this is the visionary thinker, we refer to as a Strategist, who always thinks at 20,000 feet. They are the ones who take our companies to the next level so that we remain viable and competitive in the marketplace. Strategists can also drive us crazy with big ideas, that often times cost big bucks. In other words, we are not suggesting throwing caution to the wind, but rather there needs to be a balance of making sure the big ideas make sense for our future while still remaining fluid and flexible and open to new and creative suggestions.
American Family Life Assurance Company was the number one selling personal life insurance company in Japan, however, they did not have the same brand recognition in the US. The president, Dan Amos, hired a marketing firm to develop a new marketing slogan and ad campaign to help build awareness in the US. The marketing company began to brainstorm internally for their new client. Since American Family Life Assurance Company was rather long, they decided for discussion purposes in their barnstorming meetings they would shorten the company name and use the acronym AFLAC. During one of those internal meetings, a marketing representative became flustered trying to remember the acronym and said, “What is the name of that company we are trying to pitch?” To which a colleague replied, “It’s AFLAC, AFLAC, AFLAC!” Everyone began to laugh when someone said it sounded like a duck quacking, and an idea was born.
The marketing firm decided to use that as a possible ad campaign for the company. When presenting their idea to Dan Amos, he stopped them and said, “There’s the future of our company.” Dan Amos was able to challenge assumptions to see what could be versus what is, and as a result ended up with a tremendously successful campaign and brand recognition.
Where’s the future of your company? Are you able to remain fluid and flexible, always looking for what could be, and leading the charge? Or are you stuck in the status quo…the true enemy…and your competition always gets to the next level first, leaving you in reactive mode?
It takes courage to seek the future and see what could be. There is always risk involved. Those with a low risk tolerance usually are more comfortable with the status quo. Challenge yourself to ask, “is there anything we should be thinking about that we’re not?” and listen for the nugget that could be the future of your project, task, decision, or even your company.